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A Voyage Round the World, Vol. I (of ?) by James Holman

Part 3 out of 7

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the efforts of any native force; while the tangled brushwood, and
newly-felled trees, were to form a formidable and impracticable hedge
forest side.

With all the details of this plan, the most intelligent of the colonists
were made familiar, so that they might be carried into effect for the
good of those who might happen to survive.

On the 8th of November, while these warlike preparations were still far
from being completed, intelligence arrived at the colony, that King
George, who, with his people, had previously evacuated the neighbouring
town, and to whom the African youths had deserted, was advancing upon
the settlement with a force, composed of such people, from among all the
neighbouring tribes, as had the daring to set the authority of King
Boatswain at defiance. Happily for the colonists, they had a means of
acquiring intelligence of their enemy's deliberations and intentions, of
which that enemy was little aware; a circumstance which enabled them
effectually to guard against surprise, and of which the Agent took
advantage to press the necessity of coolness and determination upon the
attention of the men.

On the evening of November 10th, the army of King George made its
appearance, at the distance of little more than half a mile to the
westward of the settlement, where it encamped for the night. The number
of warriors comprising this force, was generally estimated at nine
hundred; but, as the chiefs were the only persons who could tell the
exact amount, and each was afterwards interested to diminish the account
of their individual subjects, it is probable that the force was much
greater than it was allowed.

The most wakeful vigilance was kept up by the settlers throughout the
night; but the out-piquet having imprudently ventured, in violation of
their orders, to leave their station at the dawn of day, were
immediately followed by the native force; who, suddenly presenting a
front of ten yards in width, fired a volley, and then rushing forward,
took possession of the post, towards which they had been so incautiously
led, and from which the men were driven without having been able to
discharge their guns. Had the enemy possessed the skill, or the
self-denial to have kept their advantage, the colonists must have been
utterly destroyed; but such was their avidity for plunder, that,
abandoning every thing for the pillage of four houses in the outskirt of
the settlement, they so far impeded and confused the main body of their
army, that the colonists had time to recover from their panic, and, by
keeping up a rapid fire with the brass field-piece, they brought the
whole body of the enemy to a stand. A detachment of musketeers, with E.
Johnson at their head, was, meanwhile, despatched round the enemy's
flank, which considerably increased their disorder, and, in about twenty
minutes, the main front of the assailants began to recoil, but from the
numerous obstacles presented to their rear, the entire absence of
discipline, and the difficulty of giving a reversed order, without
method, to so large a body, and added to all, the delay arising from
their practice of carrying off their dead, their retreat was, for a
time, rendered impossible; and the violence used by those in front, to
hasten this measure, only increased the difficulties of its
accomplishment. The colonists, perceiving their advantage, quickly
regained possession of the western post, and brought their long
nine-pounder to rake the whole line of the enemy, who, pressed together
into so dense a body, that a child might have walked on their heads from
one end to the other, remained thus defenceless, and exposed to the
destructive fire that was poured upon them by a cannon of great power,
at no more than sixty yards distance; every shot from this tremendous
engine did immense execution, and savage yells filled the forest with
horrible echoes. These gradually died away, as the terrified host fell
back. At eight o'clock the well-known signal for their retreat was
sounded, and immediately after, small parties were seen running off in
different directions. One large canoe, employed in carrying a party
across the mouth of the Montserado, venturing within the range of the
long gun, was struck by the shot, and several men killed.

On the part of the settlers it was soon ascertained that considerable
injury had been sustained. One woman who had imprudently, and contrary
to express orders, passed the night in a house outside the
fortifications, and which happened to be at the point first attacked,
received thirteen wounds, and had been placed aside as dead, (after
incredible suffering she, however, recovered.) Another, flying from the
house with two infant children, received a wound in the head, and was
robbed of both her babes; but she herself providentially escaped. A
young married woman, with the mother of five small children, finding
their house surrounded, barricaded the door, in the vain hope of
resistance. It was forced, when each of the women seizing an axe, held
the barbarians in check several minutes longer; they were, however,
speedily overpowered, and the youngest stabbed to the heart: the mother
instinctively springing through the window to preserve her suckling
babe, providentially escaped, but the babe recoiling through fright, was
left behind and fell into the enemy's hands.

It was not possible to ascertain the number lost by the enemy, but it
must have been very considerable, as it is calculated that the killed
carried away by water alone amounted to not less than 150. Many others
were conveyed along the beach on mats; and twenty-seven bodies were at
one period found by a party of friendly Condoes employed by the Agent to
remove them; and long after this action the offensive effluvia from the
wood proved that the researches of these persons were still incomplete.

The numerical force of the settlers at this period amounted to 35
persons, including six native youths not sixteen years of age. Of this
number, but one half were engaged. After this action it was determined
to contract the lines, and to surround the central houses, and stores,
with a musket-proof stockade, and before night more than eighty yards of
this erection were completed.

The work was carried on with no other interruption on the following day,
than the necessary one of burying the dead: and was so speedily
completed that by the fourteenth of the month half the number of men
were, by the contraction of the lines, relieved from camp duty: thus
obtaining for each a larger portion of rest during the day, which
enabled them to perform their night watch with renewed vigour. An
additional gun was mounted and posted on the same day, and every hour
witnessed some progress in the discipline or defences of the colonists.

It was at this period that a friendly message, accompanied by a small
present, consisting of the country's produce, sent by Prince Tom Bassa,
a chief of some distinction, inspired something like encouragement to
the hopes of the desolate little band; but it cannot be denied that
their despondency outweighed their hopes, on discovering that, exclusive
of rice, there remained but fifteen days provision in store. Each
individual was now placed on an allowance per diem, scarcely sufficient
to sustain animal strength, especially when such constant demands were
made upon their industry and vigilance. No supplies could be obtained
from the natives, in whose hands seven infant children were retained as
captives, added to which the enemy's troops, though repelled, had not
dispersed, and the colonists remained in daily expectation of a fresh
incursion upon their little territory; to complete all came the cruel
conviction that their stock of ammunition was insufficient to maintain
more than an hour's defence.

These considerations, as well as the fear that the infant captives might
fall victims to their infuriated enemies, determined the Agent to make
another attempt to open a treaty for peace with the hostile chiefs, and
after great difficulty he succeeded in conveying a message to their
council (then in the act of debating a second attack), descriptive of
the wishes of the colonists to maintain peace, and of their equal
determination to oppose an invasion, with measures still more
destructive than those under which their assailants had already
suffered. These negotiations being unsatisfactorily entertained for some
time, a day of humiliation and prayer was set apart at the settlement,
after which the preparations for resistance were carried on as before.
Fortunately, at this juncture a trading vessel touched at the Cape, from
which the most pressing wants of the people obtained relief, and a few
days after, a still more bountiful supply was received through the
disinterested kindness of Captain Brassey of Liverpool, who, unsolicited
and without prospect of remuneration, nearly exhausted his own stores to
relieve the necessities of the sick and wounded, and presuming upon a
long acquaintance with the people of these parts, he undertook to
negotiate for peace; his efforts were however not successful; and
immediately after the departure of his vessel a considerable army
advanced upon the colonists; they, however, on their part were better
defended than on the former occasion, and although the force against
which they had to contend was more numerous and better disciplined than
before, yet as the forest in the neighbourhood of the town was now
converted into a wide plain, the assailants were obliged to approach
under a fire from the cannon, the rapidity of which to them appeared
like magic.

The natives sustained these destructive measures with surprising
fortitude and perseverance; several times throwing themselves on their
faces to allow the shots to pass over them, and renewing their own fire
immediately after each discharge. But a contest so unequal could not be
long maintained--in seventy minutes from the commencement of the attack
a final victory was accomplished; and the terrified fugitives dispersed
as suddenly as they had appeared, many throwing themselves into the
water and diving to avoid the shots that were fired after them. The loss
on the part of the natives was supposed not to be greater than upon the
former occasion, but its results were longer and more fearfully
remembered. Three men belonging to the colony, serving at the guns on
the eastern post were wounded, Gardiner and Crook dangerously, Tines
mortally; the Agent received three bullets through his clothes, but
providentially escaped without any bodily hurt.

There was at this time but little surgical knowledge, less skill, and no
instruments at the settlement. Its dispensary was liberally furnished
with James's powders and febrifuges; but for broken bones, and
extracting pieces of pot-metal or copper ship-bolts from shattered
limbs, there had been no provision whatever. A dull penknife or razor
were substituted for lancets; and for probes there was nothing to be had
but pieces of priming wire; the sufferings of those compelled to carry
in their cankering wounds the corroding metal, were indescribably
afflicting; and served to exemplify, most completely, the cruelty of
placing men subject to the casualties of war, beyond the reach of
surgical assistance.

A movement on the following night, supposed to indicate hostility,
induced the officer, on duty at the western post, to open a pretty brisk
fire of musketry, with several discharges from the large guns. This,
however, proved a most fortunate circumstance, for it was not only the
cause of bringing immediate relief to the settlement, but was finally
productive of the most beneficial results.

The English colonial schooner, Prince Regent, laden with military
stores, having as passengers Captain Laing of the Royal African Light
Infantry, and a prize crew commanded by Midshipman Gordon, belonging to
H.B.M. sloop of war, Driver, six days from Sierra Leone, bound for Cape
Coast, was at the time in the offing (a little past the Cape). So
unusual a circumstance as cannonading at midnight could not fail to
attract notice, and the vessel lay to till morning, when a Krooman
carried on board intelligence of the situation of the settlement, and
was immediately despatched on shore with offers of assistance.

On the following day the officers landed, and kindly undertook to
mediate on behalf of the colonists. An interview with the native Chiefs
was without much difficulty procured, their warriors having dispersed,
and themselves being overwhelmed with vexation and shame. After a little
show of affected reluctance, they were easily induced to sign an
instrument by which they became bound to observe an unlimited truce, and
to refer all their future differences with the settlers to the
arbitration of the Governor of Sierra Leone. It is scarcely necessary to
remark that having no real grievances to submit, they never had recourse
to this provisionary reference; from which time the colony has been
considered invincible to native force, and consequently has been
permitted to prosecute its plans in the utmost tranquillity,
uninterrupted even by the semblance of war.

The death of the amiable and lamented Gordon, with eight out of eleven
generous seamen, who volunteered their services to remain on the
settlement to guarantee the truce settled by Captain Laing, was the
first event that occurred to interrupt the general joy that prevailed
after the consummation of peace; these gallant fellows all fell victims
to the climate, within four weeks after the departure of the Prince
Regent, on the 4th of December.

On the 8th of the same month, the colonists received fresh assistance
through the friendly offices of Captain Wesley and his officers, whose
vessel, a large privateer schooner, under Columbian colours, came to an
anchor off the town. By the aid of mechanics, obtained from this vessel,
the settlement was put into a superior state of defence, while the
sufferings of the wounded were alleviated by the assiduous attentions of
a skilful surgeon. After conferring upon the settlers countless
obligations during a term of four weeks, Captain Wesley's vessel sailed,
bearing with it the sincerest wishes of a grateful people.

The Agent's health, which had promised improvement, sunk into a state of
hopeless debility, and by the 16th of December, medicines utterly failed
to produce any beneficial effect. It was at this period that a remedy of
the most singular nature was presented to him by a French charlatan,
who, accidentally touching at the Cape, offered his services; a drowning
wretch it is said will catch at a straw, and from despair rather than
hope the Agent submitted to his adviser, and consented to try the
effects of his prescription. A potion, was accordingly prepared, of
which one ingredient was _a spoonful of calomel_! Having administered
this, the Frenchman proceeded on his voyage, leaving the patient to
abide the consequences of his docility. Such, however, was the weakness
of his system, that he could neither throw it off, nor take it into
circulation for five days. The crude poison was then voided, and a
distressing salivation ensued, in the course of which all other morbid
symptoms disappeared: by the middle of February, he was restored to
health and the active duties of his station. Two out of the number of
captive children had been delivered up for a small gratuity; five still
remained, for whose release an extravagant ransom was demanded, terms
steadily rejected by the colonists. It speaks well, however, for the
humanity of the natives, that their first object had been to place these
young prisoners in the care of experienced nurses. These protectresses
so entirely won the affection of their charges, that when the chiefs
determined eventually to restore them unransomed to their parents, they
were obliged to be taken from their nurses by main force.

The long illness of the Agent, had relaxed the principle of industry and
order, which he had been so anxious to establish; and on his recovery he
found that it required all his influence to rouse the colonists into
those exertions, which were necessary to secure their comfort, and the
safety of their stores, during the rainy season. The huts were still
without floors, and except the storehouse there was but one shingled
roof, so that through the thatch of nearly all, the rain could easily
penetrate in continued streams.

The store of provisions was now consumed, and still remained
unreplenished by any shipment from America, while the neglect of
effective financial arrangement on the part of the Colonization Society
at home, rendered it difficult for the Agent to make purchases from
occasional vessels, and he had already a larger pecuniary
responsibility, than as an individual he could justify either to himself
or others; the productions of the country had been rendered available,
but the few disposable goods which the settlers possessed were now all
exhausted in their purchases.

Matters had arrived at this extremity, when, on the 12th of March, the
welcome intelligence of the arrival on the coast of the U.S. ship Cyane,
R.T. Spence, Esq. was announced, by a Krooman from Sierra Leone. By the
judicious and indefatigable exertions of that officer, the hulk of the
dismantled and long-condemned schooner Augusta, was again floated, and
metamorphosed into a seaworthy and useful vessel, on board which Captain
Spence placed a crew and a quantity of stores for the new settlement,
under the command of Lieut. Dashiell. Not satisfied with these important
services, he rendered the Agent's house habitable, and caused the
Martello tower to be completed, chiefly by the labour of his own crew,
before the 20th of April; and it is to be deeply regretted that the
sickness which had begun to make fearful inroads in the crew of his
ship, during her stay at the Cape, terminated in the death of no less
than forty persons, soon after her return to America.

Dr. Dix, the surgeon of the Cyane, became the earliest victim of a too
generous zeal for the advancement of the colony. The tears of gratitude
fell upon his grave, which was closed over his remains by the hands of a
sorrowing community. The case of the amiable Seton is still more worthy
of memorial, in him the blossoms of youth had just ripened into the
graceful bloom of manhood, giving to a person naturally prepossessing,
the higher ornament of a benevolent disposition, and accomplished mind.
He perceived that his services would be invaluable to the colony, and he
became the voluntary companion of the solitary Agent. His conciliating
manners, and judicious counsels, completed the conquest of public
approbation, and rendered his decease (which took place on board the
Oswego, five days after he had re-embarked for the United States), a
subject of unmitigated grief to the whole colony.

The arrival of the above-mentioned vessel, bringing an accession of
sixty-six emigrants from the middle states of America, with ample stores
and a physician, terminated the difficulties of the colonists, and since
that period, the settlement has continued rapidly improving in all those
resources necessary to the comforts of peace; as well as in those means
of defence which serve, at once, to repel, and even defy the incursions
of war.

From this period the affairs of the colony have rapidly improved. In a
short time after peace was restored, sixty-one new emigrants, and a
supply of stores, under the charge of Dr. Ayres, augmented the resources
of the colonists; but that gentleman was obliged, in consequence of the
state of his health, to resign, at the close of 1823, the
superintendance of the interests of the colony to Mr. Ashmun, who
continued, until the period of his death, to act as principal Colonial
Agent to the Society. To Mr. Ashmun's admirable management of the
affairs of the colony, much of its contentment and security may be
attributed. He purchased from its natural owners, all the territory he
occupied; and as not an acre was taken without an equivalent, the
natives were well pleased to cultivate an intercourse that was at once
so profitable and desirable. In 1825, a number of fresh emigrants
arrived, whose pursuits were of an agricultural nature, and as they
desired to go into the jungle at once, and commence operations, a
negotiation was opened with the neighbouring tribes for the purchase of
land. The ground selected was a tract of about twenty miles, varying
from one to three miles in breadth, lying on the navigable part of the
St. Paul's river. The advantages of this accession of territory,
consisted in the opportunity it afforded the settlers of dwelling on
their plantations, instead of being compelled to live in the town, at an
inconvenient distance from them; in the fertility of the soil, which was
sufficiently rich to enable the emigrant to support himself and his
family, a short time after his arrival; in making the agricultural
settlement more available and compact; and in securing the trade of the
St. Paul's river, which was an object of great importance. Subsequently
to that period, other additions have been made to the possessions of the
colonists; and, at present, the colony extends nearly 150 miles along
the coast, and a considerable distance into the interior. The government
of the colony commands eight trading stations, established on the
purchased land for the convenience of, and intercourse with, the
natives, from Cape Mount to Trade Town; and the prospects and advantages
of the colonists, are every day improving.

The laws by which a colony so prosperous and happy is governed, must
suggest a subject of deep concern to every man who is interested in any
project, that has for its end the promotion of the well being of any
section of his fellow-creatures. In this little colony, which has
succeeded so effectually in securing the confidence and attachment of
the natives, the utmost vigilance appears to have been exercised from
the commencement, to prevent any dangerous precedents from being
established, that might afterwards be cited for the defence of customs
injurious to the interests of the settlers. One of the first principles
adopted, even before the regulations by which the colonists were
governed assumed the tangible shape of law, was that all persons born in
the colony, or residing in it, should be free, and enjoy all the rights
and privileges of citizenship known to the United States of America,
which was taken as the model of the Liberian Constitution in all
respects, except that anomaly, the institution of slavery. It must
always continue to be a matter of surprise and regret, that a country
which expended so much blood on the purchase of its independence, should
sanction within its boundary the existence of slavery as a legal right.
The ermine is said to die if a single stain fall on its spotless skin,
and one would suppose that the giant republic of the new world would be
equally susceptible throughout her mighty frame of the taint of slavery;
but, perhaps, there is a fine moral in the fact, to shew us that the
works of man, even in his most elevated inspirations, must of necessity
be imperfect. The wisdom and power of the Godhead alone can produce

The colonists of Liberia resolved to avoid the error of the parent
country. They began by banishing the very name of slave, and they have
persisted in their resolution to keep themselves free. Under the
provisions of their constitution, the Colonization Society is empowered
to make such regulations as may appear requisite for the government of
the colony, until it shall withdraw its superintendence, and leave the
colonists to govern themselves; the common law, as it is in force in the
United States, is applied to the jurisdiction of Liberia. In 1824 a
regular plan for the civil government of the colony was drawn up, and a
digest of laws framed, which have been approved of, and are now in full
operation. By this plan, the Agent is invested with sovereign power,
subject only to the decision of the colonial board; municipal and
judicial officers are appointed; the choice of certain offices is vested
in the colonists, subject to the approval of the Agent; and standing
committees of agriculture, of public works, of colonial militia, and of
health are appointed, whose duties are clearly defined and rigidly

The criminal code is singularly mild: the highest degree of punishment
being expulsion from the colony, which is a very beautiful
exemplification of the sense of honour and integrity that the colonists
entertain, when, for the most flagrant violations of civil rights and
good order, they deem it a sufficient disgrace and infliction to cast
out the guilty person from all further communion, the property of the
exile being given to his heir; or, in lack of an heir, reverting to the
general stock.

The remarkable success which crowned the efforts of the settlers in
Liberia, has subsequently led to the consideration of more extensive
plans for the establishment of colonies for liberated slaves. Of course,
in proportion as the circle of manumission is enlarged, the provision
for the future welfare of the emancipated blacks must he increased:--with
a double view, therefore, not only to prepare adequate settlements for
their reception, but by the exercise of an active liberality to
encourage the spirit of freedom which was found difficult of
accomplishment at first, but which ultimately yielded to the energies
of the opponents of the slave trade in America. Many attempts had been
made in the United States to abolish, or at all events diminish the
practice of slavery, bat in vain; for it appears, however startling and
apocryphal the statement may seem, that the English Government, during
the period that they exercised sovereignty in the Union, always refused
to sanction the abrogation of slavery. Even so far back as 1698, the
mother country rejected a proposition made by the assembly of
Pennsylvania, to levy a duty of 10 per cent. per head on the importation of
slaves; which was intended to operate as a prohibition. Indeed, one of
the proximate causes of the Declaration of Independence (July 1776) was
the unrestricted introduction of slaves. Soon after the American war
had terminated, it was suggested as an appropriate measure, in
fulfilment of views which had been so long defeated by the influence of
English authority, to establish a colony on the coast of Africa, but
the continued pursuit of the degrading traffic by almost all the powers
of Europe, prevented the benevolent projectors from carrying their
design into effect. Twenty years afterwards, the plan was revived, and
the most strenuous exertions were made in the different States to
organize a body of opinion, which should finally triumph over the
self-interests and reluctant morality of the slave-owners. At this
period, one of the difficulties which the philanthropic abolitionists
experienced was the want of a suitable refuge for such slaves as they
might be enabled to liberate. The legislature of Virginia, which
contains nearly one-third of the black population of the Union, pledged
itself to release all its slaves, if Congress would undertake to
provide an adequate asylum for them. President Jefferson negotiated in
vain for a territory in Africa, and the Brazils. The legislature of
Virginia again renewed its pledge, and as much of the bigotry of former
times had now been obliterated by the diffusion of enlightened
principles, the renewal of the proposition was followed by the best
results. General Mercer, familiarly designated as the Wilberforce of
America, opened a correspondence with the principal advocates of
emancipation, which ultimately produced the formation of the American
Colonization Society, on the first of January, 1817. The labours of the
Society were greatly facilitated by the laws of the Union, which left
to each State the uncontrolled power of legislating for itself on the
subject of slavery. The members of the Society had therefore merely to
address themselves to the humanity and understanding of the
slaveowners, in order finally to attain their purpose. The progress of
moral truth, however slow, is always certain, and the issue of those
proceedings has been such as the excellence of their object might have
led us to anticipate. Several of the States have already signified
their willingness to forego all the pernicious advantages of slavery.
And the number of slaves offered gratuitously by owners in different
parts of America, vastly exceed the present means of the Society to
provide for them in Africa. The legislature of Maryland appreciate so
highly the utility and importance of the settlement of Liberia, that
they have voted in the first instance a considerable sum, to be
appropriated annually to its support, and have subsequently, within the
last six months, voted two hundred thousand dollars for the purpose of
assisting in the formation of another settlement on the same

It is, therefore, sufficiently evident, that what is now required to
complete the united objects of manumission and colonization, is, not so
much the consent of the slave-owners, as the power of carrying the
design into operation. Mr. Elliot Cresson, of Philadelphia, an active
and enthusiastic supporter of the cause, visited England in 1832, for
the purpose of drawing attention to the subject, and of appealing to the
well-known generosity of a country that has uniformly taken the lead in
advancing the interests of civilization. A Society was formed, under the
patronage of H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, with the view of extending
colonization in Africa, on the same system which has proved so
successful in the case of Liberia. The subject, unfortunately, did not
excite the attention which might have been anticipated, partly, I fear,
because it was ill-timed, and was considered by the general body of
Abolitionists, as a diversion tending to distract the public mind from
the great question of emancipation, which was then undergoing anxious
discussion; and partly, because it was considered by some, as a
palliative likely to prolong the existence of slavery, in the same ratio
as it diminished its evils. The selection of so unseasonable a moment
for introducing the subject to the public, was influenced by the
necessity Mr. Cresson was under of returning to the United States, but
previously to his departure, the objections to the efforts of the
Society were fully answered, and the important fact of the independence
of each State, in reference to slavery, was stated in ample detail. From
those statements it appeared, that the law of slavery, in some cases,
prohibits--not only the emancipation; but the education of slaves, in
order to render their bondage still more hopeless and oppressive: but
that the efforts of the Society were gradually abating the rigour of
those cruel restrictions. The Society has hitherto endeavoured, as far
as its powers would permit, to extend the principle of colonization, by
removing, invariably, with their own consent, such slaves as have the
good fortune to obtain their freedom, to a spot where they were not only
free from competition with the white population, but where their
education, imperfect as it might have been, rendered them the superior
instead of the inferior class: thus silently promoting the blessings of
Christianity and civilization amongst the native tribes. Mr. Cresson,
during his residence in England, distributed several illustrative
documents, sanctioned by names of distinguished persons in the United
States, and to which I am indebted for some of these particulars. From
these documents, were there even no other evidence, it may be fairly
inferred, that Liberia affords uncontrovertible proof of the
practicability of establishing colonies on the African coast, composed
of persons of the African race, nearly, if not wholly, freed from the
control of the whites; that the expense of establishing such a colony is
moderate, not having exceeded, in the case in point, 4000l. per annum;
that it is greatly favoured by the natives, with whom the colonists are
rapidly extending their commercial and friendly relations to their
mutual benefit; that it has not only placed a large number of manumitted
slaves in a prosperous situation, but led to the emancipation of many,
who must otherwise have still continued in bondage; and, finally, that
it has completely put an end to the slave-trade in the immediate
neighbourhood of the settlement, where that nefarious traffic was
hitherto most extensively prosecuted. It is to be deplored, that
although Great Britain has recently made a noble effort to abolish
slavery in her own dominions, there are other countries which still
sanction a usage so degrading to our age and religion. But a very short
time since, several vessels were captured, the united cargoes of which
amounted to a thousand slaves, and when we refer to the large proportion
which the liberated Africans bear to the rest of the population in
Sierra Leone, equal to about three-fourths of the whole, and consider
the heavy expense at which this country endeavours to fulfil the serious
responsibility it has taken upon itself in the liberation of these
unfortunate captives, I am persuaded that all the particulars which can
be collected respecting Liberia, will be deemed worthy of the most
serious attention. My readers, therefore, will not, I trust, think that
I devote too much space to the subject, if I close my rapid sketch of
the progress and fortunes of this settlement, with the latest
information respecting it, which has been received in Europe. It is of a
very recent date, and is from the pen of Dr. Mechlin, the Governor of

"The colony is daily adding strength and respectability to its
character, and if even now all patronage were withdrawn, the colonists
are fully capable of sustaining and defending themselves from any
assaults of the natives, and regulating their own concerns in such a
manner as to secure the prosperity of the colony. A court, courthouse,
and trial by jury, are established. At this moment, since the
departure of Governor Mechlin, and until the new Governor arrives out,
there are none other than blacks among the inhabitants of Liberia.

"The slaves who were captured and brought into St. Augustine, and Key
West, after remaining in the United States from six to twelve months,
were sent to Liberia, a quantity of land being granted to them there.
They have gone on to cultivate it in a manner equal, if not superior,
to that of the colonists. They have been able to accomplish thus much
from what experience they gained while in this country. These people
arrived at Liberia naked; they have clothed themselves from the avails
of their labour, and, what is rather singular, they have gone into the
town to seek out for themselves wives, esteeming themselves too far
advanced in civilization and refinement to form connexions among the
natives, although they might obtain from among them much more comely
persons than they are enabled to find among the very meanest of the
colonists, from whom they are obliged to select. This fact alone
shows, that but a small degree of civilization infused into this
people, tends to the elevation of their character.

"The colonists of Monrovia are said to be much more inclined to trade
than to cultivate the earth. The English and the French vessels which
come there, have engrossed almost the whole trade of the colony, the
Americans not being able to compete with them. Many of the natives
come into the town, and are employed as labourers by the colonists.
The colonists also receive some of the children of the natives into
their families, and send them to school. At different times the
natives have made three or four attacks on the settlements, but have
always been repelled with spirit; for the last year the natives have
been very quiet and friendly. The colonists can bring into the field,
if necessary, about 500 troops, which are considered a match for ten
times the number of natives. Many tribes of these natives hold slaves,
which are treated with much cruelty, and it is doubtful if even their
masters are so well off or so happy as the slaves in our southern
states. They are much less civilized and more ignorant.

"The people there called Kroomen, reside in the country. They come
down to the sea-shore and pitch their tents, and launch their canoes,
and, sailing all along the coast, they become pilots to the traders;
and these are the men with whom the Spaniards trade for slaves. These
Kroomen keep no slaves themselves, neither do they allow any of their
own tribe to be sold as slaves; and they become of so much importance
to the slave-dealers on the coast, acting as a sort of brokers,
negotiating among the tribes for slaves, that they themselves, knowing
their own consequence, do not hesitate to board a slave-vessel, and
there is no instance of their ever being kidnapped."

The history of this little colony, which I have endeavoured to sketch
from the information furnished by Mr. Ashmun, appears to me to afford
matter for serious reflection. The principle involved in colonization
is, I am aware, liable to some objections, and I am not indifferent to
the arguments to which it has given occasion. But the strength of truth
and reason seems to be altogether in its favour. The dogmas of Malthus
maybe right or wrong, the statistical propositions of Mr. Sadler, and
the philosophical deductions he derives from them may be right or
wrong: with these querulous rhetoricians, I have nothing to do. But one
thing is certain, that while the fertile earth, in any of its endless
divisions, affords the means of sustenance, no human being ought to be
suffered to want, because the notion of emigration does not square with
certain opinions of a despotic school. That some countries are
overpopulated in reference to the resources of their superficies is, I
take it for granted, a fact above impeachment. That there is room
enough on the surface of the earth for all the population it contains,
is another truth which very few persons will be hardy enough to
contest. The principles of Providence in the economy of space appear,
therefore, to be that the superabundant population of one place, shall
seek in the uncultivated and scantily peopled regions of other
countries, for those means of existence which are denied to them by the
pressure of the demand on the soil at home. The immutable law of
benevolence, drawn from the institutes of Christianity, ordains the
earth for the sustenance of man. But that law is perverted by those who
resist emigration under the circumstances to which I have alluded. What
is to become of the surplus population, if it be not allowed a space
wherein to fertilize the virgin soil, and supply its wants? If its own
land denies it the means of life, must it die, that some philosopher
may triumph in his doctrines?

It is very true that colonization frequently terminates disastrously,
and that instances might be cited, in which emigrants have suffered
terrible privations, and have even fallen beneath the insalubrity of
unaccustomed climates. But these cases merely prove the necessity of
adopting sufficiently precautionary measures, before the emigrant
commits himself to a venture, upon which the happiness and interests of
himself and his family altogether depend. If a man rashly goes out
uncovered, and exposed, into a storm, he will surely run a chance of
catching an illness: so too, if a man penetrate to the tropics, and
carry with him the habits of England or France, he will certainly peril
his life, for these habits are unsuitable to places where a vertical
sun pours down its scorching rays upon the body. Every climate requires
especial modes of conduct for physical constitution. Brandy and water
might be a very good beverage, and even a medicinal protective at the
North Pole, but it would be ruinous if taken in excess at Sierra Leone.
It is because emigrants do not sufficiently study the situation to
which they bend their steps, that they so often complain of failure. We
have seen in the first expedition from the United States, that the
project terminated fatally for nearly all the colonists; but why?
Because they went to a low marshy island, at the commencement of the
rainy season, when disease in its worst horrors was just setting in.
How could they expect to escape a contagion, which they actually seemed
to court?

If the example of the colony of Liberia were to be followed, if
wholesome laws were laid down to regulate the movements of emigrants,
and proper precautions taken, by which all the advantages of position
might be seized, and the disadvantages avoided, I have very little
doubt that colonization would ultimately prove a valuable safety-valve
for society. The idle and wretched, who have no hopes or friends at
home, might always be thus beneficially drafted off to infant states,
where they could be made to labour, and where their recovered habits
could be rendered subservient to the common good. At home they hang on
the necks of the industrious; there they might be converted to useful
members of the great community, improving the means of the social body,
instead of deteriorating its morals, and wasting its resources.

[19] This is a small bag filled with air, for the purpose of floating
nippers that are attached to it, through which the line passes, being
intended to fasten itself to the line on the surface of the water the
moment you check it on perceiving the lead strike the bottom, by which
means more correct soundings are obtained.


The Kroo Country--Religion of the Kroo and Fish men--Emigration of the
Natives--Sketch of their habits and customs--Purchase of wives--The
Krooman's _ne plus ultra_--Migratory propensities--Rogueries exposed--
Adoption of English Names--Cape Palmas--Dexterity of the Fishmen--Fish
towns--The Fetish--Arrival at Cape Coast--Land with the Governor--
Captain Hutchison--Cape Coast mode of taking an airing--Ashantee
Chiefs--Diurnal occupations--School for Native Girls--Domestication
of Females--Colonel Lumley--Captain Ricketts--Neglect of Portuguese
fortresses--A native Doctor

_Monday, Oct. 8th, 1827_.--Light airs and variable, with frequent heavy
showers. Land in sight, bearing N.E. At noon calm and very hot. Lat.
5 deg. 32'. N. lon. 10 deg. 17'. W. Cape Palmas E.S.E. 168 miles.
Hoisted in the pinnance, which we had been towing all the way from
Sierra Leone, in consequence of the crowded state of the ship.

_Tuesday, 9th_.--At noon, lat. 4 deg. 55'. N. lon. 9 deg. 17'. W. Cape
Palmas S. 76 deg. E. 83 miles. At one a canoe came off to the ship, at
this time we saw a remarkable rock, called the Swallow, or Kroo rock,
which is detached from the main land, about two miles and a half from
the entrance of the river Waffen. There is a safe channel for vessels
inside of this rock, with seven fathoms water, and a muddy bottom.
Nearly twenty leagues to the westward of the Waffen is the river
Cestus,[20] in which river, Captain Spence, an old African trader, has
had a timber establishment some years.

Being now off the Kroo country, I think it desirable to introduce a
short description of it, and its inhabitants.

The Kroo country is situated on that part of the coast of Africa called
the Grain Coast, the chief towns of which are Settra Kroo, Little Kroo,
Kroo Barru, Kroo Settra, and King Will's town. It does not appear that
it extends any distance inland. The manners of the natives are
sufficiently curious to merit some description. They are pagans, and
place much faith in charms, auguries, and oracles. The most celebrated
place for oracles is near the banks of the river Cavally, a little to
the westward of Cape Palmas, and this spot is in as great repute
amongst them, and the surrounding tribes (particularly those along the
coast, even so far down as Cape Lahou), as ever that of Delphos was
among the ancient Greeks, and so far as we can learn, imposes with
equal success on the credulity and superstition of the poor ignorant

The Kroomen, that is, the Kroo and Fish men, for they all come under
the general denomination of Kroomen in Sierra Leone, are almost the
only people on the coast who voluntarily emigrate, to seek for labour
out of their own country. They come to Sierra Leone, to work in any
capacity in which they can obtain employment, until they are possessed
of sufficient property to enable them to purchase several wives. The
object they propose to themselves in this increase of their domestic
establishments, differs in some respects from the indulgences of the
east. The Kroomen compel their women to perform all the field-work, as
well as the necessary domestic duties, in conformity with the usages of
savage life, and when they can purchase a sufficient number of wives to
fulfil all these employments, they pass the remainder of their days in
ease and indolence. Before they are able to accomplish this object,
they are obliged to make several visits to Sierra Leone, as they do not
like to be absent more than two or three years at a time from their own
country. The average duration of this voluntary banishment is perhaps
about eighteen months. A sketch of the progress of the Kroomen from
their first visit to Sierra Leone, to the final consummation of their
wishes, in the attainment of their Paradise of idleness, will fully
illustrate the peculiar character of a tribe, one of whose usages is
that of seeking abroad during the vigorous years of life, the means of
dwelling with ease and comfort in old age at home.

When they have arrived at healthy boyhood, they first come to Sierra
Leone in the capacity of apprentices to the old hands, who are
considered as headmen or masters: these headmen, according to their
influence, or station in their own country, have a proportionate number
of apprentices attached to them, fluctuating from five to twenty, to
teach them what they call "White man's fashion." The profit of the
labour of the youths is always received by the headmen, who returns
them a small portion of it. When an apprentice goes back to his own
country, after his first trip, he is considered to have passed through
the period of initiation, and when next he visits Sierra Leone, he
comes upon his own account. The amount of the gains of this visit (a
great part of which consists of what they have been able to steal) is
delivered up to the elders of his family, who select and purchase a
wife for him. A short time is now spent in marriage festivities with
the respective relatives of the parties, and then a fresh venture to
Sierra Leone is undertaken, on which occasion he leaves his wife with
her relations. The proceeds of the third visit are dedicated to the
building of a hut, and the purchase of another wife. But he does not
remain long at home, before he prepares to set out again for the
purpose of making fresh accessions to his wealth, so that he may
increase his household up to the desired point where his own personal
labour will be rendered unnecessary to his support. In this way he
continues to visit Sierra Leone, accumulate property, and purchase
wives, the general number of which varies from six to ten, until he has
secured the requisite domestic establishment, when he "_sits down_" (as
they call it) for the remainder of his life, in what he considers
affluence and happiness. The process of wife-buying is remarkably
curious. For the first wife they pay two bullocks, two brass kettles,
one piece of blue baft, and one iron bar; but the terms upon which they
obtain the rest, depends entirely upon the agreement they make with the
parents of the brides. A convenient condition is attached to the
marriage articles, which secures the husband against any risk of being
disappointed by the bargain. If, after marriage, he discovers in the
lady any imperfection, or qualities that falsify the account given of
her previously by her parents, he is at liberty to turn her away in
disgrace, and the rejected bride is for ever after looked upon as an
abandoned character. In a very ancient history of Ireland, it is
stated, that a practice formerly prevailed in that country, of
permitting the bride elect to live with her intended husband twelve
months before marriage; and if, at the end of that time, the gentleman
was not satisfied with the lady's character and disposition, he was
allowed to send her back to her parents, taking upon himself the charge
of their offspring, in case they should have any. The gallantry of that
people, however, appears not to hare visited the female with any odium
in consequence: she was regarded by her friends with the same respect
and tenderness as before. The Kroomen cohabit with their wives in
succession, passing two days in rotation with each.

Of course, it does not fall to the lot of every Krooman who goes to
Sierra Leone, to secure such luxuries for the decline of life, many of
them being too imprudent to take sufficient care of their earnings.

The Kroomen sometimes come to Sierra Leone in their own canoes, which
are comparatively small for such a voyage, but they manage them with
skill, taking the precaution to keep close in with the land, and go on
shore every night. They are also conveyed in vessels that trade on the
coast, which they prefer, for the sake of economy, as they get their
provisions for assisting in navigating the vessel. On returning to
their country, however, they cheerfully pay 15s. a-head for their
passage, in any vessel they can procure; and, at these times, their
luggage, including the fruits of their plunder as well as their
earnings, makes no inconsiderable appearance in the ship. When they can
afford to return home in these larger vessels, they prefer them, on
many accounts, to their canoes, which are not only inconveniently
small, but expose their goods to the wet, and always liable to be
attacked and plundered by the Fishmen, who are more expert on the
water. They are also subject to great danger from some runaway blacks,
who infest the coast near the rock Cestus, going out in canoes, and
watching their opportunities for plundering any boat or vessel that
they are able to overpower.

When the Kroomen leave their own country for Sierra Leone, they do not
bring any thing with them, except their gregories (various charms),
some native medicines, consisting merely of a few herbs, and a little
box containing certificates of character from the different persons
with whom they have served. These certificates they prize highly, as
forming introductions to future employment; however, but very few of
them could be possessed of such testimonials if their masters were
better acquainted with their conduct. I have been informed by some
persons who have visited the Kroo country, that they have seen in the
huts of the natives, silver forks and spoons, knives and forks,
table-cloths, towels, &c. &c., things which they never bought, but
which they had, no doubt, stolen from their employers. The articles
that they generally purchase for themselves are shawls, handkerchiefs,
blue baft, and other cloths for wearing round their waist, fine beaver
hats, muskets, ammunition, knives, common spoons, and various fancy
articles for their women.

It was my intention to have visited their country, had not the Eden
proceeded so soon to Fernando Po, but as I was very anxious to be
present at the first operations in the formation of our establishment
on that island, I reluctantly abandoned my design. Any person would be
quite safe in the Kroo country, who would place himself under the
guidance of one of their respectable headmen, and Englishmen in
particular might visit the interior of their country under great
advantages, as the people are well acquainted with them in consequence
of the trade which is carried on in ivory, at their own towns on the
coast, as well as the intercourse which is constantly kept up with
Sierra Leone. There have occasionally been upwards of 2000 of these
people at one time in Freetown; but, shortly before our arrival, an
order in council was issued to restrict the resident Kroomen to 600,
for the purpose of throwing open the labour market to the free blacks,
as well as to prevent in some measure the drain of profit which the
Kroomen caused by their frequent immigration and departure.
Notwithstanding a great proportion of what they earned was expended on
articles of British manufacture, which they took away with them, still
a material injury was sustained by their constant robberies, which more
than counterbalanced the benefit of their expenditure. Independently of
this political motive for restricting their numbers, it was useful as a
measure of social protection. They resided by themselves in a suburb of
the town, apart from the rest of the inhabitants, and used to emerge at
night from their close retreats, and commit the most daring burglaries.
The stolen property was carefully secreted in their own quarter, where
they had a much better opportunity of concealing it than if they dwelt
promiscuously in the town at large. They frequently stole calves, pigs
and poultry, always adopting the precaution of immediately dressing
them, and burning the hides or feathers, as well as any of the offal,
that might probably lead to detection. In consequence of these
practices their moral character was very low at Freetown, but as they
were active, muscular, and intelligent, they obtained a decided
preference as servants and labourers. Some of them were also usually
employed as sailors in nearly all vessels that remain on the coast. One
very remarkable trait in these people is the bond of close union that
keeps them together, and preserves an interest in common throughout the
whole fraternity. If one of them should commit a crime, it is a very
rare occurrence to find another informing, or bearing witness against
him; and they carry this principle of combination so far, that they
will rather suffer for the offender than denounce him. If the
authorities attempt to elicit the facts by a course of examination,
they only obtain subterfuges and prevarications, and seek in vain by
threats or promises to shake the constancy of the witnesses. The
headmen manage their rogueries with so much ingenuity that charges can
very seldom be proved against them. They send out their apprentices,
under particular instructions, to commit robberies, and, like the
Spartan youths, they consider the most expert thief to be the cleverest
fellow: should any of these young men be caught, they are left to get
out of the scrape in the best manner they are able, for unless it be to
swear falsely to an alibi, or some other evasion of truth, their
masters never appear in the affair afterwards.

The native denomination of a Krooman is Kroo, and that of a Fishman
Krepo, and they have distinguishing marks for their respective
countries tattooed on their face.

From the difficulty which exists in ascertaining their own names, they
always add some English word as a personal designation. The selection
of the word is quite a matter of chance, and it is of no consequence
whether it belong to a person, place, or thing. For instance, if you
ask one of them what his name is, he will probably say, "My name is
Soda Water, Massa," another will tell you that his name is "Bottle
Rum," or "Bottle o' Beer," and others, "King Will, Jack Freeman, Tom
Freeman," &c. &c. Freeman being one of the most common and favourite
names amongst them.

_On Wednesday, October 10th_.--we were off Cape Palmas, bearing N.E.
twenty-one miles, where a number of canoes came alongside with a few
trifling articles for sale, but their object was evidently more to beg
than barter. The article chiefly in demand amongst them was tobacco. On
taking their leave, one of the men got into his canoe by leaping
overboard while the ship was going very fast, and the boat paddling
hard to keep up with her. He swam to the canoe, and rolled himself over
the gunwale in a horizontal position, the people in the boat leaning
over the opposite side to prevent it from upsetting. These men may
truly be called Fishmen, for they appear almost as independent in the
water as the fish who inhabit it; they think nothing of having their
canoes upset on the wide ocean, for they can easily recover its former
position, and get the water out of it when they resume their places. I
was informed they will also attack a shark in the water without
hesitation, and they are very expert in catching almost every
description of fish. The Kroomen stand no chance with them on the
water, and when they happen to encounter each other in their canoes,
the first thing the Fishmen try to do is to upset the Krooman's canoe,
after which they are quite at their mercy. They arc also much better
seamen, as well as boatmen, yet notwithstanding this difference of
character, they are in appearance the same people as the Kroomen, and a
stranger would not know the difference. Formerly the Fishmen were
without the distinguishing mark down the forehead, which is now
commonly adopted. Their country, as I have before remarked, is in the
vicinity of Cape Palmas, and their principal towns are Bafoo, Wapee,
Batoo, Little Cess, Grand Cess, Garaway, Cape Town, Cavally, Tabor, and
Bassa. They are much more numerous than the Kroomen, but neither
Kroomen nor Fishmen have a united government; for they have frequent
wars amongst themselves; Fishtown against Fishtown, and Krootown
against Krootown, but they both possess one great and generous
characteristic, that of never selling each other for slaves on any
pretence. This, in a country where the slave-trade is so universal, may
be noted as a very extraordinary and remarkable feature in their

When any person dies in the Kroo, or Fish countries, unless the
deceased may have expressed a wish to the contrary, his friends apply
to the Fetish-men to know how he came by his death, when they
invariably fix on some obnoxious character, either man or woman, as
having been the cause. This person is then compelled to drink what they
call saucy-water, the infusion of the bark of a tree, well known for
its deleterious qualities. Of this preparation they are obliged to take
three heavy draughts of about a quart each. On the effect of this
depends the supposed guilt, or innocence of the accused. If it remains
on his stomach he is considered to be guilty of the alleged crime, and
he consequently dies; but, if evomition takes place no evil consequence
attends it, and he is declared to be innocent. Where it fails to
produce the latter effect, the people hunt him about the town as they
would a mad dog, until he is at the point of death, which generally
takes place a few hours after he has drank the prescribed potion.

_Saturday, 13th_.--At noon. Cape Three Points E. 1/2 N. 7 miles.

Five leagues to the westward of Cape Three Points, is Axim, where the
Dutch have a fort; and about one league further to the westward is the
mouth of the river Ancobra. Six leagues to the eastward of Cape Three
Points, is Dix Cove, where we had a fort occupied by a small detachment
of the Royal African Corps. At half past eight in the evening, we
anchored for the night in 15 fathoms water, for fear of running past
Cape Coast roads before daylight, the currents being very irregular;
and, early on the following morning, we proceeded on our voyage. At 9
o'clock we were abreast of the Dutch fortress of Elmina, which is 7
miles to the westward of Cape Coast Castle, off which place we came to
an anchor about 10 o'clock, in 9 fathoms water. We found the African
steam-boat, and the Diadem transport, waiting our arrival; there was
also an English merchant brig in the roads, but we heard nothing of our
schooner. At noon saluted his Honour the Lieut.-Governor, on his
leaving the ship, taking his secretary and myself with him in the
canoe, which was a fine boat, pulling 17 paddles: we were seated on
chairs, fixed to a platform in the forepart of the boat. The castle
saluted the Lieut.-Governor on landing, and the shore was lined with
natives to receive him. The surf not being very high, we were enabled
to land without a wetting, which is rarely the case. On entering the
castle, I was introduced to the officers of the garrison, and to Capt.
Hutchison, a merchant of this place, who is well-known for his eminent
services in this country. The first thing that brought him into
particular notice was being associated with Messrs. James and Bowdich,
in their mission to the King of Ashantee, in 1817. He was left at
Coomassie, the capital of that kingdom, as the accredited British
agent, after the departure of the mission, on their return to Cape
Coast. The King of Ashantee was pleased with his remaining, for it not
only shewed the confidence he had in him, but it was a proof of the
sincerity of our intentions, by thus leaving him as a pledge for the
fulfilment of our part of the treaty that had just been negotiated; and
the forfeiture of his life would, no doubt, have been the consequence,
if the King had even suspected any breach of faith on our part. In this
situation he remained several months, without the society of any white
man, among savages, who think no more of the life of a human being,
than a vicious boy does of a dog or cat. Some time after his return
from this mission, Capt. Hutchison was called upon to serve in a
military capacity against the very nation where all his efforts had
been directed to preserve a pacific disposition: and we here find him
no less distinguishing himself in the field of proud honour, with his
sword in his hand, than he had done in his diplomatic character; for,
notwithstanding he had an important command assigned to him, he was
personally engaged in almost every battle, in one of which (at Affatoo)
he was severely wounded in both arms, and before these wounds were
healed, he was called upon to take command of the centre hill on the
lines at Cape Coast, when it was attacked by the Ashantees, and all the
nations that the powerful king of that country was in alliance with.

I took a ride with Capt. Hutchison before dinner, in his carriage,
which was a gig, with a head to it, on four wheels, drawn by as many
men; but, if these fellows could have been placed behind us, as they
were in the canoe, it would have been desirable, for their muscular
exertions produced an effluvia, which was any thing but agreeable.
Objectionable, however, as this style of travelling may appear, it was
certainly better than being carried about in a sedan-chair, or a
palanquin, excepting for travelling at night, or any great distance.

My countrymen will, perhaps, think it very cruel to see men substituted
for horses, but when they are informed, that it is undertaken
voluntarily on their part, and even eagerly solicited by them, for the
reward attendant thereon, there will be no reason for complaint. As a
proof of their not feeling the employment derogatory, the following
observations will be sufficient to convince the most sceptical:--when a
gentleman, who has not a sufficient number of persons on his
establishment to employ in this way, wants to take an airing in his
carriage, he has only to mention it to his servants, and the house will
soon be surrounded with volunteers, soliciting to be selected for the
service. There are two reasons why the vehicles at Cape Coast are drawn
by men instead of horses, the principal one being that horses are very
dear, and do not live long in the climate; the second, that, even if
they had a sufficient supply of horses, they could not find a drive of
four miles in any one direction, without making a road expressly for
the occasion. The short one that they already have, requires constant
attention to keep it clear, the vegetation being remarkably rapid and

Captain Hutchison obligingly invited me to take up my quarters with
him, but as Colonel Lumley also desired me to consider myself as his
guest during my stay at Cape Coast, I divided my time between the
Colonel and his officers at the Castle, and Captain Hutchison with the
principal merchants of the place. Dined with the Lieutenant-Governor at
the officers mess at the castle.

_Tuesday, 16th_.--Immediately after breakfast I accompanied the
Governor and Captain Ricketts to visit a native school, which is
composed of 100 boys, some of whom were very intelligent, and wrote and
read English remarkably well.

I was present to-day when the Governor gave audience to twenty Ashantee
chiefs, who were introduced by the King of the Fantees, or Cape Coast
nation, accompanied by a number of his carboceers, or great men, who
acted as interpreters to the Ashantees. These twenty chiefs were part
of a mission, composed of one hundred and twenty sent by the King of
Ashantee to the commandant at Cape Coast Castle, but as the
Lieutenant-Governor of Sierra Leone happened to be there at the time,
it was thought to be more complimentary that he should give them an
audience. They came rather as petitioners than as equals, their object
being to sue for a peace, offering to deposit a certain quantity of
gold in Cape Coast Castle, as a security for their strict observance of
the treaty. After the meeting, I had some conversation with the King of
the Fantees, and several of his carboceers, all of whom spoke English.

_Wednesday, 17th_.--I will just give an outline of my diurnal
occupations, which were pretty much the same during my short stay at
Cape Coast. My first visit every morning was to Captain Hutchison about
7 o'clock, when I was sure to find him at breakfast. I remained with
him about a couple of hours, which time was passed very agreeably in
conversation, excepting occasional interruptions by a visit from one of
the carboceers, who called on matters of business, or to get him to
settle some disputes among their people, for he had so much the
confidence of the natives, that both their great men and the common
people, preferred referring to him to settle their quarrels than to
their own authorities. At 9 o'clock I always repaired to the castle to
breakfast with the Governor, and Captain Ricketts, the commandant,
after which I used to pass my time among the different merchants, who
had all called on me on my first arrival, and given me a general
invitation to their houses. About noon I usually found a party
assembled at Captain Hutchison's to _relish_ with him, as it is
significantly called, which in fact was an early dinner, as was the
custom of the place. At 4 o'clock they took a ride in the manner before
described, or called on each other, and at 6 they took their tea with
meat, &c.

This evening I accompanied Colonel Lumley and the officers at the
castle, to the merchants club-room, where some played cards, while
others passed the time in conversation, billiards, &c. In the
intermediate hours during the day I called on various persons, and
visited different parts of the town, to glean what information I could.
The Horatio, schooner, tender to the Eden, arrived this evening.

_Thursday, Oct. 18th_.--Passed through the market this morning, which
is always held at an early hour, where the articles for sale consist
principally of fruits and vegetables. The sales here are conducted by
barter, the merchants generally exchanging tobacco and other goods for
the articles they want to purchase.

I visited to-day an English school for native girls (21 in number) the
expense of which is defrayed by the Government. These children were not
all black, for there were a few very pretty Mulattoes amongst them. A
custom that must appear strange and immoral to my own countrymen, but
which is not held so at Cape Coast, prevails, in reference to these
girls, when their education has been completed. Although none of them
are regularly affianced, some of them are taken from the school into
the household of resident English gentlemen, where they perform all the
domestic duties in an anomalous capacity, combining all the
responsibilities of the married state, without its legal bond. A
previous engagement, and clear understanding is entered into with the
parents of the girls, to the mutual satisfaction of all parties, and
their offspring is afterwards provided for according to circumstances.
These young women usually receive the elements of a good education, and
constitute the only female society which an Englishman can enjoy here,
as the climate is so debilitating to English ladies that they cannot
reside in the place for any length of time. This, indeed, is the only
excuse that can be offered for a custom, which it must be granted does
not admit of an apology beyond the mere necessity of the case. The
girls are excellent managers in domestic concerns, and good and careful
nurses, qualities that are exceedingly valuable in such a situation.

_Friday, 19th_.--Being on the point of taking leave of my friends at
Cape Coast, I cannot better occupy a few pages than with some general
retrospective observations.

Colonel Lumley, Lieutenant-Governor of Sierra Leone claims my first
attention. I had the good fortune to make his acquaintance at the seat
of government, and during the whole time I had the pleasure of knowing
him, I always found him to be actuated by a most zealous devotion to
the many important duties which his situation imposed upon him. Nor was
his high character as a public officer more praiseworthy, than his
estimable qualities us a man. I shall always look back with pride and
satisfaction to the period of our intimacy, which was clouded only with
the apprehensions I entertained of the fate that awaited him. Perhaps
the prophetic forebodings with which he was impressed might have led me
to such gloomy anticipations; for he often observed to me, he felt
convinced that if he should ever be attacked by the fever, it would
prove fatal, as it unfortunately did, not very long after I left the
colony: and I was informed he caught it from a young friend whom he was
kindly attending, and who fell a victim to the disease.

With Captain Ricketts, the commandant of the fortress, I also had the
pleasure of enjoying an intimate acquaintance. Captain Ricketts has
served many years on this coast, and was engaged with the Ashantees at
the battle of Essamacow, where Sir Charles McCarthy lost his life. On
that occasion he had a most miraculous escape, both in, and after the
battle, particularly on his return to the coast, where he was obliged
to follow the course of rivers, traverse the jungle and forests alone,
to evade the murderous Ashantees. He subsequently became commandant of
Cape Coast Castle, in which capacity he acquired so much influence with
the natives as to succeed in prevailing on them to build a
market-place, to lay out several new lines of streets, and otherwise
improve the town; but above all, to induce them, after a great deal of
persuasion, and perseverance, to take down all the houses adjoining,
and in the immediate vicinity of the castle walls, a measure which must
have greatly interfered with their religious prejudices, as they were
obliged to remove the remains of their relatives, who are always buried
under the apartments they inhabit, and to carry them to their new
habitations to be deposited in a similar manner. He had also succeeded
with the King and carboceers in getting them to cut away all the jungle
from the suburbs of the town, for three or four miles distant, and in
fact his influence was so great, and the positive utility of the works
he designed so obvious, that the natives of Cape Coast almost adored
him. The castle, which is a fine building, was kept in the best order
under the superintendence of this active and useful officer.

It is astonishing that the Portuguese, who have been so enterprising,
and expended so much money on their early discoveries in the erection
of fortresses, many of which may still be considered good modern
fortifications, should now allow most of their foreign possessions to
go to decay, and even to fall into ruins. Look at the once celebrated
city of Goa on the Malabar coast, dwindled into insignificance, and
proverbially called a city of priests and beggars. What is the cause of
this decadence? Is it a just visitation for the unjust means they
practised to acquire those possessions? All for the thirst of gold! Or
is it that the active spirit of the Portuguese ceases with the
acquisition of novelties, and that they are destitute of those
persevering qualities which improve and foster the possessions that are
originally obtained by enthusiasm and energy?

We had frequent heavy showers during our stay at Cape Coast, although
this was not the regular rainy season, for these showers were what are
called the after-rains, which last about a fortnight.

When the weather clears up after very heavy rains, many of the poor
people, principally old women and children, take up the mud from the
gutters, and wash it well in calabashes, when they generally find a few
grains of gold for their pains. This is also the case after a very
heavy surf has subsided which, during the violence of the storm,
generally throws up a great quantity of black mud on the shore.

There is a strange exhibition to be witnessed every morning on the
sea-shore, which, however, I shall forbear to describe.

There is a singular old man, upwards of 60 years of age, at Cape Coast
Castle, who is well known by the name of Dr. Saguah, and who acts in
the capacity of a native doctor. This person excites a great deal of
attention, not only by the peculiarity of his manners, but by the
circumstances through which he has reached a station of some
consideration. He was originally a slave to the African Company at Cape
Coast, and having been accidentally placed in the house of the medical
establishment, he learned to compound medicines. In the duties which he
performed in this capacity he rendered himself very useful, and
continued at the pestle and mortar until Sir Charles McCarthy's
arrival, when the African Company was dissolved, all their slaves
liberated, and the new charter proclaimed, (for Sierra Leone and Cape
Coast) on March 29, 1822. Having received his freedom, he now assumed a
position of some importance, and was retained on the medical
establishment as dispenser, with a small salary. His excellent conduct
and judgment in the discharge of his new office procured him the
general respect and confidence of Europeans, and his reputation, when I
was at Cape Coast, stood so high that he was frequently consulted on
the diseases of the climate in preference to medical gentlemen from
Europe. He is in the habit of making daily visits to all the European
residents, whether they require his services or not, and they generally
invite him to take some refreshment, handing him at the same time the
keys of their celeret or cupboard, that he may help himself to spirits,
or wine. He sometimes avails himself of their offer, chiefly for the
sake of gratifying his vanity, by shewing to the servants the
confidence that is reposed in him; for no other native, perhaps, except
himself, would be entrusted with the keys of any place where wine and
spirits are kept. Trade was very dull during my stay at Cape Coast, and
had been so for some time; the merchants, however, looked forward to
its revival, in consequence of the prospects of peace with the Ashantee
people, who were very desirous to terminate hostilities, for the sake
of being enabled to resume their commercial intercourse with the
English, and other Europeans on the coast. During the war it was
believed that they had accumulated a great quantity of gold and ivory,
which are the principal articles they barter for goods of European
manufacture, and for which they had no sale while hostilities lasted,
except in some few instances, where individuals risked the hazard of
embarking in smuggling transactions.

Captain Hutchison (whom I have before mentioned, as being left at the
Ashantee capital after the departure of the mission), when the troops
returned to the coast, subsequent to the Ashantee war was appointed
commandant of the Fortress of Annamaboe, a post which he resigned for a
time, in consequence of some difference of opinion with Colonel Lumley,
acting Governor of Sierra Leone, when he was at Cape Coast; however, he
was afterwards induced to resume the command of the fort, where he has
a mercantile establishment, as well as at Cape Coast. His opportunities
of acquiring popularity have been very favourable, for he has held
several high posts at one and the same time, namely:--

Commissioner of Requests,
Commandant of Annamaboe,
One of H.M. Justices of the Peace for the Gold Coast,
Colonial Secretary of Cape Coast, and
Captain of the Royal Gold Coast Militia.

And I have the satisfaction of adding my personal testimony of his
worth, having found him a most intelligent, hospitable, and friendly
man. In addition to all the kind offices he had rendered me during my
short residence at Cape Coast, he presented me with a hoop
basket-worked ring, richly chased, made of virgin gold from the
Ashantee country, and also an Ashantee stool, which is described by
Bowdich to be made out of a solid piece of wood, called zesso, which is
very light, white, soft, and bearing a high polish. In addition to the
soft nature of the wood, it is said to be well soaked in water to make
it still softer, previous to its undergoing the process of carving.

From its being the custom among the Ashantees for their great men to be
seated on stools, some of them take much pride and pains in having them
highly carved or ornamented. The pattern is generally the same, being a
very low concave seat; the only difference is the manner of ornamenting
them. Bowdich relates, that in one of the grand processions at
Coomassie, the stools of the great men were carried on the heads of
favourites, and he observes that they were laboriously carved, with two
bells attached to each. He also describes the King's stool as being
entirely cased with gold. The word stool also signifies a high place of
office in the King's council, to which his captains are occasionally
raised for any distinguished act of bravery; but this promotion is
attended by a heavy fee to the King's household, being no less than
eight ounces of gold. When a rich man dies, the person that succeeds to
his fortune is said to succeed to his stool. I will conclude the
subject of stools with an observation relating to cushions, which is,
that no subject can sit in public with a cushion on his stool, unless
it has been presented to him by the King, or one of his four principal

[20] Nine miles to the westward of the mouth of this river, is the
rock Cestus, where there is a settlement of about seventy Fishmen,
who have run away from their own country, to avoid the penalty of the
law. They are principally from Niffon, Baddon, and Pickaninny Cess.


Recollections of the Ashantee War--Battle of Essamacow--Accession of
Osay Aquatoo to the Throne--Battle of Affatoo--Investment of Cape
Coast--Flight of the Ashantees--Martial Law proclaimed--Battle of
Dodowah--Ashantee Mode of Fighting--Death of Captain Hutchison

I cannot sufficiently express my sense of the uniform kindness I
experienced from the residents at this station. My excellent friend,
Capt. Hutchison, lodged me in a good stone house, which was entirely
appropriated to my own use, and I had also apartments allotted to me
at the castle, so that I passed my time as agreeably as I could
possibly desire. The interesting conversations in which I had the good
fortune to participate, afforded me a variety of curious and valuable
particulars respecting the natives; and, when it is remembered that
the gentlemen from whom I derived those anecdotes and descriptions,
had mingled personally in the scenes to which they referred, they
acquire an enhanced value, from so unequivocal a proof of their
authenticity. Many incidents, connected with the Ashantee war, were
related to me with all the fire and energy which the soldier exhibits
when he enumerates the dangers he has escaped, and the victories in
which he has shared; I wish I could transfer to my pages the spirit
which inspired my informants; but I must leave the imagination of the
reader to supply the strong feelings of personal interest involved in
the details, contenting myself with a plain recital of a few short

The battle of Essamacow, which is registered in the Gold Coast
Almanack, with the significant prefix of "fatal," was fought on the
21st of January, 1824. Hostilities commenced about two o'clock in the
afternoon, when both parties opened a brisk fire across a small river,
that separated their forces. Our troops consisted of only a few
regulars, a small body of militia, and some irregular native allies,
the whole commanded in person by his Excellency Sir Charles McCarthy,
Governor of Sierra Leone.

The regulars and militia alone were armed with bayonets, so that, in
the event of close collision, in which, unfortunately, this conflict
terminated, we were at a fearful disadvantage, contending against a
foe so much superior in numbers, and so expert in the use of their
hand-arms. The firing across the river continued for four hours, but
at six o'clock in the evening, the English were compelled to cease in
consequence of having exhausted all their remaining ammunition. The
Ashantees, perceiving the difficulty in which our troops were placed,
resolved to turn the opportunity to immediate account, and, uttering
discordant yells, rushed into the river, and advanced _en masse_
upon our forces. Sir Charles McCarthy saw that there was but one means
of resistance left, and received the tumultuous enemy at the point of
the bayonet. For some time, the steadiness and courage of the English
prevailed over the barbarian rage of the multitudes that threw
themselves upon their "serried ranks," and the Ashantees fell in rapid
succession; but it soon became evident that the strictest discipline
of such an inferior body, could not withstand the increasing crowds
that poured upon them: the English soldiers, finding themselves so
hemmed in that their muskets became inconvenient to them, for want of
space to exercise their arms with freedom, relieved themselves from
the encumbrance by unfixing their bayonets, and casting their muskets
away. With this awkward weapon they continued the engagement against
an enemy armed with long knives, in the use of which every Ashantee is
singularly skilful. All the advantages of European knowledge and
cooperation, were at an end. It now became a terrific scene of
slaughter, in which physical power had the inevitable superiority.
Opposed to such infuriated masses, the coolness of the English was of
no avail. They fell quickly before the knives of the Ashantees,
exhausted from the loss of blood, and covered with numberless wounds.
Happily their sufferings were of short duration, for the enemy, in the
fulfilment of a barbarous usage, cut off their heads as they fell, as
trophies of their own personal prowess.

Sir Charles McCarthy saw that the day was lost, and that it would be
but an inglorious sacrifice of his own staff, and the few soldiers
that yet remained, to continue on the field. He, therefore, prepared
to retire; but this resolution--which, in the breast of so brave an
officer, was slow to find a place--was taken too late. A large body of
the enemy had already advanced upon his rear, and intercepted his
retreat. All hope, even of escape, was now cut off. The victory of the
Ashantees was complete: and nothing but conjecture is left as to the
cruel sufferings which were inflicted upon our gallant countrymen and
allies before they surrendered their spirits to their Creator on that
fatal day.

Two officers only escaped--Brigade-Major Ricketts and Lieut. Erskine.
Almost all the principal Europeans were slaughtered, and only one, Mr.
Williams, is known to have survived: he was sent to the court of
Ashantee. The most melancholy feature in this affair is, that the
officer who had charge of the ammunition, neglected to keep the troops
properly provided with powder, for had the supply been sufficiently
prompt, it is believed that the Ashantees never could have succeeded
in their advance movement, or, indeed, that they never would have
attempted it, so great was our superiority over them in loading and
firing. It is to be feared, that great blame is attached to the
management in this part of the arrangement for the necessities of the
battle, for when Major Ricketts opened the three last kegs supplied to
the troops for ammunition, he found, to his consternation, that they
were filled with macaroni! although, when the Ashantees plundered our
camp the day after the battle, they discovered ten kegs of
ball-cartridges, amongst a great quantity of valuable booty. But,
however lamentable this negligence was, it should be suffered to pass
into oblivion. The officer upon whom it is charged, perished with his
brave companions; and, like them, he is placed for judgment before a
higher tribunal: it is, therefore, unnecessary, as it would be cruel,
to pain his friends and relatives by registering his name, to mark a
military error, which might have been caused by the unexampled
confusion of the scene in which he was called upon to act so
responsible a part.

Shortly after this disastrous event, the late King of Ashantee, Osay
Tootoo Quamina, died. He just lived long enough to receive the
intelligence of a triumph which inspired the Ashantees with the most
extravagant hopes, and led them to prosecute the war with sanguinary
violence. Osay Aquatoo (the Orange[21]), the brother of the deceased
king, had no sooner succeeded to the vacant throne, than he resolved to
follow up the advantages of the war with vigour. He believed that the
death of an officer of such estimation as Sir Charles McCarthy, must
have thrown the ranks of the British soldiers into confusion and
despair, and, taking it for granted, that a military demonstration, on
his part, would be sufficient to complete the successes which had opened
so successfully under his predecessor, he departed from his capital to
take the command of the army, which was then advancing on Cape Coast. On
this occasion, agreeably to the superstitious usage of the natives, the
head of the late king was carried into the files of the Ashantees, as a
charm to protect them in the battle, and an incentive to the performance
of valorous deeds. When the King had made some progress towards the
encampment, he sent a sarcastic message to the Commander-in-chief, who
was then at Affatoo, within ten miles of Cape Coast, which abundantly
shewed the confidence by which he was animated. His message was to the
effect, that he had learned, in Coomassie,[22] that all the white men
had been killed in the late action, and demanding to be informed, what
he, the Commander, and all his young men were about, that they had not
taken the Castle.--"Stop!"--was the _naive_ reply of the General to the
messenger--"Stop till Friday, when the white men are going to attack us:
then you can carry back to the King the news of what you see, and of
what the young men have to do." Friday came in due course, and the army
of the Ashantees went forward to redeem the pledge of their exulting
General. This was the battle of Affatoo, which took place on the 21st
of May, 1824. The result was disastrous to the cause of the King. The
natives were completely routed and driven from the scene of action,
without the loss of a single officer on our side, and with but one
wounded (Capt. Hutchison), who commanded the Annamaboe militia, and who
was shot through both arms, while he was leading his men to the charge.

The Anglo-Fantee army, immediately after the battle of Affatoo, fell
back on Cape Coast Castle, as had been previously arranged by Colonel
Sutherland, who had arrived from Sierra Leone just before the battle.
This movement of that portion of our troops, enabled Major Chisholm,
who possessed the entire confidence of all the soldiers, to take the
command in the field. The King of Ashantee, now joined the army, which
he headed in person, and concentrating all his forces, he advanced
towards Cape Coast Castle with the intention of blockading the town.
On the 10th of June, 1824, he pitched his gorgeous pavilion,[23]
sparkling with its rich colours and costly embroidery in the effulgent
sunlight, on a height to the northward of the town; in the valley
between which and the back of the town lay the ground where the
important issue was to be contested.

For a whole month the belligerent parties lay in sight of each other,
mutually watching their opportunities to attempt a decisive movement.
Several skirmishes took place from day to day, but without making much
impression on either side; and during this interval of suspense, in
which our troops were exposed to the rays of a vertical sun, and in
continual expectation of a hidden and treacherous attack from a
barbarous horde, greatly superior in numbers, and with whom "revenge
is virtue," ascending volumes of smoke wreathing up into the air, and
blackening the bright expanse of heaven, marked the terrific
conflagrations that were constantly taking place in the surrounding

At length the eventful day arrived on the 11th of July, 1824. In order
to understand the peculiar perils which our army had to encounter, it
is necessary to observe that Cape Coast Castle stands near the sea,
and that the town is built on the west side of it, at a short distance
from the beach. Upon three conical hills that arise close to the back
of the town, and run nearly parallel with the coast, our troops were
stationed. The right hill was occupied by Major Chisholm's division,
the left by Major Purden's, and the centre by Captain Hutchison's;
while the subordinate officers commanded the passes between the valley
and the town, which were four in number, two beyond the hills, and two
between them. These passes were choked up with a dense jungle. The
whole army was commanded by Colonel Sutherland, assisted by Sir John
Phillirnore, and most of the officers, seamen, and marines, of H.M.S.

At noon the enemy pushed forward in immense numbers, and with
ferocious valour towards the passes, with the design of forcing them.
Their attention was particularly directed to the right wing, as the
town was considered to be most accessible on that side. Their savage
cries, their heedless desperation, and tumultuous onset, were well
calculated to unnerve the bravery of troops accustomed to discipline
and a more honourable species of warfare, but our soldiers met the
Ashantees with an unmoved front: the resistance was as courageous as
the attack was fierce; and the first approach of the enemy was
repulsed with steadiness. It was at this crisis that Lieutenant Swanzy
fell, covered with wounds at the head of his detachment. To this fine
young man, whose gallantry was conspicuous in the action, might be
applied with truth the celebrated words of the poet,

"The young, the beautiful, the brave!"

The conflict raged with great fury, and the indomitable self-possession
of our soldiers at last threw the Ashantees into confusion. Their wild
exultations gave way to universal despair, a panic seized upon their
irregular masses, which now filled the valley in a state of fearful
commotion, and exhibited a terrific picture of savage desperation.
Perceiving the incertitude of his army, the King descended from the
hill for the purpose of animating the troops by his presence. The royal
_cortege_, as it swept down the height, and mixed with the heaving
crowds below, was singularly imposing. The King advanced with a gaudy
umbrella held over his head, followed by a glittering and diversified
train, consisting of his numerous wives and eunuchs celebrating his
praises and his deeds in barbarous lyrics, while others amongst his
retinue were employed in waving brilliant feathers and fans, and the
tails of elephants and horses over the head of the monarch, keeping
regular time with the inspiring war-song, to which all his guards
contributed in an uproarious chorus. The King exhibited great personal
courage and perseverance; again and again he rallied his disconcerted
troops, who were seen flying about in all directions in the utmost
disorder. In this way the conflict was prolonged until darkness fell
upon the scene and terminated the battle. On the cessation of
hostilities, the Ashantees retired, with the intention, as the British
soldiers believed, of renewing the fight with the return of daylight.
Major Chisholm, taking advantage of the circumstance, removed into the
fort for the night, and discovered for the first time, that the stock
of ammunition, particularly the musket balls, was nearly exhausted.
Rapid measures were adopted for repairing this disaster; all the leaden
and pewter vessels in the town were immediately put in requisition,
melted down during the night, and cast into ounce balls. Yet even this
additional supply would have been of little avail, had the enemy
renewed the attack on the following day. But when the dawn returned,
the Ashantees were seen in the distance, encamped in stillness, and
without exhibiting any disposition to encounter our soldiers again, and
as evening began to fall, preparations were visible of an intention to
retire from the field, and in a few hours afterwards, the King of
Ashantee, despairing of success, retreated with his army under cover of
the night.

From this period a cessation of arms followed; but the Ashantees
becoming turbulent again, martial law was proclaimed on the 6th of
June, 1826. Affairs were in this position, when the battle of Dodowah
was fought on August 7, 1826, between the English, assisted by the
native allies, and the Ashantees, with their allies, commanded in
person by the king, commonly known by the designation of the

The ground on which the battle was fought is an extensive plain, the
surface of which is occasionally interspersed with clumps of trees and
brushwood. It is distant from Accra, N.E. about seven or eight leagues,
and lies four miles S. of a village called Dodowah, from which it takes
its name. The day on which it took place being considered by the
Ashantees as favourable to enterprises, was on that account anticipated
by us, so that we were enabled to prepare for the action in time. About
eight o'clock in the morning, our scouts brought intelligence that the
enemy were already in motion, and the English drums immediately spoke
with their fine martial music to our troops, who formed their lines
with promptitude, stretching about four miles from E. to W. The variety
of costumes, and flags of different nations, exhibited by the European
lines, including the native allies, presented a very picturesque and
imposing appearance, and invested the scene with a peculiar arid
inspiring interest. For several days previous to the battle, a dispute
was maintained between the King of Akimboo, the King of Dunkara, and
the Queen of Akim ,[24] as to who should have the honour of attacking
the King of Ashantee's own band. This point, however, was finally
settled by an arrangement which satisfied all parties; it was decided
that the King of Akimboo should take the extreme right, while the King
of Dunkara and the Queen of Akim should occupy the extreme left. Their
zealous aspirations, notwithstanding their ardour, were disappointed
after all, for the King of Ashantee hearing that the white men filled
the central position of the European lines, chose that point for his
own attack, on account of the great honour which he hoped to acquire by
meeting the English in person.

The officers and gentlemen engaged in the battle were Lieut.-colonel
Edward Purden, commanding the whole. Captains Kingston and Rogers, and
Lieutenant Calder, of the Royal African Corps; Dr. Young, of the staff;
Mr. Henry Richter, merchant, Danish Accra, with his own men, about 120;
Mr. I.W. Hanson, merchant, British Accra, with his men, amounting
nearly to a similar force; Mr. J. Jackson, merchant, Cape Coast, with
Mr. Bannerman's men (Mr. Bannerman being in England in bad health),
amounting also to about an equal strength; and Captain Hutchison,
Annamaboe, with the Cape Coast artificers, part of the town's people
(volunteers), assisted by Bynie, a native chief, whose people,
including the above mentioned from Cape Coast, amounted to about 150.
These formed the centre, and were drawn up in lines, with the Royal
African Corps as a reserve.

The attack commenced from right to left about half past 9 o'clock.
Several of the natives, unaccustomed, probably, to the regularity of
European movements, came to the troops in the centre, and reproached
them in coarse and offensive language with cowardice, for not opening
their fire, which circumstance being communicated to the commanding
officer he ordered them instantly to advance. They accordingly moved
forward about 400 yards, when a heavy well directed fire took place on
our side. From this point the English troops continued steadily to
proceed, the enemy slowly and sulkily giving way as they advanced. No
prisoners were made, for as they fell they were put to death. Even in
this summary cruelty there was a species of mercy, as many were ripped
up, and their hearts torn from the vital region, in order that the
blood might be poured out on the ground as an offering to the triumph
of the English arms. The fighting in many instances was of the most
barbarous and ferocious description. In some cases, single men marked
their particular adversaries and dragged them from the ranks; and thus,
combating in pairs, they wrestled and cut each other, until the knife
of the more fortunate gladiator entered the vital part of his
antagonist and terminated the revolting contest. The enemy was pressed
so hard by our troops, that a distinguished Captain of the Ashantees,
either from despair, or to end his misery the more speedily, blew
himself up. A cry now arose that the Ashantees were advancing between
the centre and the right wing of the army: the alarm was caused by a
panic amongst the party from Danish Accra, the native troops in that
quarter having, with their Carboceer at their head, retreated early in
the action, it being, as they afterwards explained, "against their
Fetish to fight on a Monday," and thus created in the remainder of the
body apprehensions of weakness. This cowardly conduct of the Danes
compelled the centre to fall back, and abandon all the advantages their
valour had obtained, a movement which immediately exposed them to a
galling fire from the enemy, who now rushed onwards in immense numbers
to crush the retiring troops. At this important crisis of the battle,
Colonel Purden advanced with the reserve, who brought rockets with
them, a few of which thrown amongst the enemy spread the most appalling
confusion. The hissing sounds of these novel messengers of death; the
train of fire; the explosion; with the ghastly wounds inflicted by the
bursting of the rockets; led them to suppose that this terrible
instrument could be nothing less than thunder and lightning.

While these proceedings were going forward in the centre, another party
of Ashantees attacked the left wing of King Chebbo (of Dunkara), the
Winnebahs[25] having fled at the first fire, and never paused until
they reached Accra. King Chebbo, however, was in advance with a handful
of his people, driving back his opponents, and a few rounds of grape
fired over the heads of our troops soon relieved his party from their
assailants. On the right wing, the battle was never doubtful throughout
the day. The King of Akimboo swept all before him, penetrated to the
King of Ashantee's camp, took them in flank, and shewed his rapid and
victorious progress by a column of smoke that extended to the very
heart of the enemy's lines.

The example of the Ashantee Captain, who blew himself up to escape from
the hand of his adversaries, was followed by several other Ashantees in
command. The sight of these suicides on the field of death was
terrible: the explosion of the gunpowder, the shouts and groans of the
combatants, the discordant noises produced by the rude instruments of
the barbarian soldiery, the general _melee_ of the raging battle, and
the confusion that arose in consequence of the grass having caught the
flames from the firing and the exploding powder, presented a scene
which, with a little aid from the imagination, might have been easily
translated by a poet or a painter into a vivid picture of the infernal

The effects of the rockets and grape-shot, produced so extensive an
alarm amongst the enemy, that they fled in all directions, and were at
last completely routed. The Danish flag now advanced from the rear, and
it was soon seen that the Fetish of the recreants, although it had
forbidden them to fight on a Monday, had not made any provision against
the commission of acts of spoliation, for these people were the very
first to plunder the Ashantee camp, and then to run off with the booty,
as fast as they had fled from the field of battle.

The Ashantees lost in this engagement the whole of their camp baggage,
including a great quantity of gold. Towards the evening a number of
prisoners were made, for our allies, tired of slaughter, contented
themselves with making as many prisoners as they could for slaves. They
were supposed altogether to have lost 5000 men, amongst whom were most
of the principal chiefs, and the King himself was wounded. One of his
wives (to whom Mr. Bannerman introduced me at Accra) and a female child
were taken prisoners. Our loss was comparatively trifling, not
amounting to more than 800 killed, and 1600 wounded. Colonel Purden
received a contusion on the higher part of his right leg, from a spent
shot, and Mr. Richter received a shot through one of his thighs.
Amongst the deaths, there were three native chiefs, who commanded in
our lines.

Soon after the battle, some of the Annamaboe people brought several
heads of Ashantees whom they had slain to Captain Hutchison, as a proof
of their personal courage, and individual prowess. Some of these heads
were recognised by Captain Hutchison as belonging to natives who had
been known to him. Amongst the spoils one head was found by the Aquapim
chief, which excited curiosity, by the care with which it was enclosed
in wrappers, and Captain Hutchison desired that the covering should be
removed. On taking off the first wrapper, they found the second to be a
fine parchment, inscribed with Arabic characters; beneath this was a
final envelope of tiger's skin, the well known emblem of royalty among
the Ashantees. The evident pains which had been taken in the
preservation of this head, satisfied all the by-standers that it was
the head of Sir Charles McCarthy, to which it was generally understood
regal honours had been paid by the natives. The gratification which
this discovery gave to our countrymen may be easily conceived, and they
lost no time in sending the head to England, together with the first
account of the battle of Dodowah. The head, however, had scarcely been
forwarded to its destination, when some prisoners who had been taken in
the action, made the disagreeable disclosure that the head belonged,
not to Sir Charles McCarthy, but to the late King, Osay Tootoo Quamina,
and that it had been taken into the battle in conformity with the
prevailing usage of the people. The effects of this information though
painful were ludicrous enough. The head of the Ashantee King had found
its way to England as an accredited relique of the lamented Sir Charles
McCarthy, and was the first remains of an Ashantee that had ever,
perhaps, received the solemn rite of Christian burial; while, on the
other hand, the head of Sir Charles McCarthy, had been deposited with
all the rude pomp of their heathen ceremonials in a Pagan cemetery.
However disappointed the friends and countrymen of Sir Charles McCarthy
must feel at the discovery of this strange interchange of reliques, the
Ashantees are still more mortified at a circumstance which has robbed
their royal catacombs of one of its mementos, and broken the line of
death's heads by which the chronology of the throne is perpetuated.
They are quite ashamed of the occurrence, and greatly annoyed whenever
it is alluded to; more particularly as the Fantees, their immediate
enemies, take every opportunity of reproaching them with a loss which
they consider to be a disgrace.

Connected with this subject is the Ashantee mode of fighting, a
description of which will serve to illustrate the previous details. In
the first place, we must suppose them to be encamped, with the
intention of advancing to attack their enemy. They commence their
operations by cutting a number of footpaths for a single person only to
make his way through the bush; these paths are cut parallel,
equi-distant, and just within hearing. By these numerous paths they all
advance in Indian file, until they arrive in front of the enemy, when
they form in line, as well as circumstances will admit. Their arms and
accoutrements consist of a musket without a bayonet, the lock of which
is covered with a piece of leopard's or some other skin to protect it
from the weather, a pouch tied round their waist containing the powder,
in about twenty or thirty small boxes of light wood, each having a
single charge; a small bag of loose powder hanging down on the left
side; and in addition to this a keg or barrel of powder is carried for
each party to replenish from when required. Their shot is langrage,
composed of pieces of iron, lead, ironstone (broken in small pieces),
&c. &c., and is carried loosely in a bag. The last of these materials
is most generally used, as it is procured with facility, being found
lying in great quantities on the surface of the earth. They load their
muskets with a large charge of both powder and shot. In their buckskin
belts they carry from six to twenty knives of various lengths, together
with a cutlass or bill-hook, the former for cutting off heads, and the
latter for clearing their way through the underwood. On arriving near
the enemy, they cut a path transversely in front of those before
mentioned, in which path they form their line, within twenty or thirty
paces of the enemy, having a little brushwood in front for their
protection. They then immediately commence firing through the
intermediate bush. So soon as one of either party observes an opponent
fall, he rushes forward and seizes him by the throat, when with great
dexterity he separates the head from the body by means of one of his
knives, and runs off with it to lay it at the feet of his captain.
After the action is over, the captain collects all the heads that he
has received, puts them into bowls, and causes them to be presented to
the chief of the army.

I cannot take leave of this subject, or of the scenes to which it
relates, without reverting to the name of Captain Hutchison, a sharer
in the dangers and the glories of the war, and one to whom I am
indebted for many valuable particulars, and for an anxious and steady
friendship, upon which I shall always look back with satisfaction and
gratitude. Very lately--indeed while these memoirs have been in
preparation for the press--the painful intelligence of his death has
reached me. I had been favoured by a visit from him since his return to
England, after an absence of seventeen years in Africa, and anticipated
shortly to have had that gratification renewed, looking forward to our
meeting with something like the anticipations of a veteran, who hopes,
in the society of some ancient and well-beloved comrade, "to fight his
battles o'er again!" But these pleasurable dreams of life are not at
our own disposal, and we must submit to the will of that Power in whose
hands are the agencies of all the elements, of which man is but a
perishable compound. My acquaintance with Captain Hutchison commenced
under circumstances which cannot easily be obliterated from my memory,
and ripened into friendship almost unconsciously. I speak of him as I
knew him, and even my partiality, heightened by my regret, cannot much
exaggerate his merits. He was a brave officer, and an intelligent
gentleman. His mind was practical, prompt, and energetic; and he united
to the qualities of a strict disciplinarian, all the kind feelings that
embellish the character of social benevolence. Peace to his ashes, and
honour to his name!

[21] From the colour of his skin.

[22] From "Coom," to kill, and "assie," under, meaning under the large
Banian, or Indian fig-tree, that stands in the market-place, opposite
to the palace.

[23] This was a very splendid tent that had been presented to him some
years before by the Dutch Governor, General Daendals.

[24] This extraordinary woman, who displayed unexampled energy
throughout the whole of this war, was about five feet three inches
in height, and was distinguished by an almost infantine character of
face, and a voice low and soft as the tones of a flute. It was thought
that she habituated herself to that style of speaking to conceal her
really masculine nature, and to interest her audience. Her voice,
notwithstanding its sweet inflections, was broken, or "cracked," as
singers term it, a circumstance occasioned, perhaps, by the constant
use she made of it, for she was not a little remarkable for that
volubility which a rude jest attributes to her sex in general. She was
a very successful beggar, too, amongst the rest of her accomplishments,
for munition and strong drink. Just before the battle of Dodowah
commenced, she passed along the ranks, encouraging her people with an
appropriate harangue, and waving at the same time a gold-hilted sword
in one hand, and an elephant's tail (the emblem of royalty), in the
other, with a necklace, well adapted for the occasion, composed of a
string of musket halls. This heroine said to some of our countrymen,
who called on her the day before the battle, "Osay has driven me from
my country because he thought me weak, but he is mistaken; for,
although I have the form of a woman, I have the heart of a man!" an
observation which her extraordinary prowess in the fight fully
justified. She was to be seen every where in the heat of the battle,
encouraging and exciting her troops; wherever the greatest danger was,
there, too, was the energetic Queen of Akim. Her conduct reminds us of
Queen Bess at Tilbury Fort, and perhaps still more of Boadicea herself.

[25] These are the same people who murdered Governor Meredith about
fourteen years before. For that crime, the English blew up their
fort. They have always acted basely in battle, and are notorious for
gluttony, cruelty, and cowardice. The Ashantees said that if they went
to Winnebah, they could catch the people like swine.


Embarkation--Departure for Accra--Land Route--Accra Roads-Visit to
Danish Accra--Dilapidations of the Fortresses at Dutch and English
Accra--Captive Queen--Mr. Thomas Park--Cause of his Death unknown--
Departure for Fernando Po--First view of the Island--Anchor in
Maidstone Bay--Early History of the Settlement--Captain Owen's
Expedition--Visited by the Inhabitants--Site for the Settlement
determined--Author's Mission to the King of Baracouta--Visit of
the King--Native Costume--Ecstacy of the Natives--Distribution
of Presents--Second Visit to the King--His Majesty's evasive
Conduct--Renewed Interviews--A Native Thief--Intended Punishment--
Cut-throat, a Native Chief--Visit to King-Cove--Purchase of land

_Friday, Oct. 19_.--When on the point of embarking with Mr. Galler,
the purser of the Eden, we took some refreshment at Mr. Castle's, a
commissariat officer, whom I had the pleasure of unexpectedly meeting
again at New South Wales, and who is one of the few survivors, after
serving some years at Sierra Leone and Cape Coast. Embarking, as well
as landing, at this place, is a matter of some moment, the passengers
and a part of the crew being obliged to get into the boat before they
launch her from the beach; for the surf is occasionally so heavy as to
become exceedingly perilous. Canoes are frequently upset in the attempt
to get off in bad weather, and the purser of a man-of-war was drowned
in this manner a few years before; but the natives, who are like fish
in the water, are indifferent to the danger; all they care about is to
keep the boat from being stove, and to save her appointments. There was
a small lodge of rocks about one hundred yards from the shore, that
would answer for the foundation of a breakwater, which it is calculated
might be effected at the cost of from three to five hundred pounds, and
which certainly would be most desirable for affording protection, and
facility to boats, both on landing and leaving the shore.

_Saturday, Oct. 20th_.--At eight this morning we left Cape Coast Roads
with a fine breeze, for Accra, a distance of sixty miles by sea, and
eighty-five by land. A sketch, of the land route may not be
uninteresting. Four miles eastward of Cape Coast is Moree, and the
Dutch Fort Nassau; six miles from Moree is Annamaboc, the most complete
fortification in the country; five miles from thence Cormantine, the
first fort possessed by the English, and built by them about the middle
of the seventeenth century. It was taken afterwards by the Dutch, and
being stormed, was almost destroyed by the Ashantee army, before it
attacked Annamaboe; the position is very commanding. Tantumquerry, a
small English fort, is about eighteen English miles from Cormantine
(crossing the small river Amissa, an hour's walk inland from which is
Mankasim, the capital of the Braffoe district of Fantee), the natives
call the town Tuam; eight miles from Tantumquerry is the town of Afram,
where there is a Dutch fort, and a small river; eight miles from Afram
is Simpah or Winnebah. The people of Simpah are Fantees, but their
language is called Affoottoo. They are in the district of Agoona. About
nine miles from Simpah is the Dutch fort Berracoe; the natives call the
town Leniah. Attah, of Akim, laid a contribution on this fort in March
1811. About twenty-seven miles from Berracoe is Accra or Inkran, once
subject to Aquamboo, which people, according to Isert, formerly drove
them to Popo.

We had only the Horatio schooner in company, the African steam-vessel,
and Diadem transport, having sailed the preceding evening for Fernando

_Sunday, 21st_.--At eleven o'clock this forenoon, we anchored in Accra
Roads, where we found His Majesty's ship Esk, Captain Purchass, who
came on board to wait on Captain Owen. I had the pleasure of
accompanying this gentleman on his return, first to his ship and then
to the shore, in a very fine canoe of the country, belonging to Mr.
Bannerman, who is the only English merchant at Accra. This canoe was
fifty feet in length, pulling seventeen paddles, and Mr. B. has had it
raised two feet in the fore part (where the passengers were seated on
chairs), expressly to protect him from the sea in his occasional
voyages to and from Cape Coast Castle.

We found the beach equally bad for landing as at Cape Coast. Some of
the officers of the Eden and Esk, as well as myself, dined with Mr.
Bannerman, and I slept at the house of Captain Fry, who was commandant
of the English fort here, which is in a most ruinous state, and instead
of being _fort_, I should say it was _foible_.

_Monday, 22nd_.--After breakfast, a party of us in two gigs, drawn by
four blacks each, went to Danish Accra, a distance of two miles, and a
very good road. The Danish Governor and all the officers received us
very politely, and invited us to remain and pass the day with them. The
fortress was very clean, and every way apparently in good order. What
is called Danish Accra is merely the fortress, which is the case with
Dutch and English Accra,[26] for there are no Europeans living in
private houses, except Captain Fry and Mr. Bannerman. The fortress of
Dutch Accra is even in a more ruinous state than that of the English,
and is entirely deserted. There is a native town, of course, and in it
are to be found jewellers, who make ornaments of every fashion, out of
the purest gold, brought from the interior. The gold is four pounds per
ounce, and they charge an additional pound for converting it into
necklaces, bracelets, or any other ornaments, of whatever pattern you
may fancy.

Mr. Bannerman invited us to visit one of the King of Ashantee's
favourite wives, who had been made prisoner during the war, with her
daughter and grand-daughter, whom Mr. B. had accommodated with part of
his house, where his own two sisters were living, distant about a
quarter of a mile from the house of business where he resided. They
were apprized of our visit, and were dressed accordingly to receive us.
Mr. Bannerman is himself a gentleman of colour, and a man of education;
he resided a long time in England, and is a sensible, mild, and
gentlemanlike man. He supplies all our men of war, on the African
station, when they call at Accra, with bullocks, vegetables, &c. &c.

Mr. Thomas Park, who left England, as one of the Midshipmen of the
Sybille, but with three years leave of absence from his ship so soon as
she arrived on the coast, ordered by the Admiralty for the express
purpose of travelling in Africa, with the avowed intention of
endeavouring to discover the course, and source of the Niger, was
landed at Accra some time since from that ship, and passed a short time
there in studying some of the languages of the countries through which
he meant to travel. He left Accra to proceed on his journey into the
interior on the 29th of September, 1827, and arrived at Mampong in
Aquapim on the 2nd of October; this he left on the 5th for Acropong,
the chief town of Aquapim, and on the 10th left Acropong, for Aquambo,
a town at the head of the Volta river, where he arrived on the 16th of
October. I heard that he had been kindly treated, so far as he had
penetrated, but at the last mentioned place, he took a fancy to climb a
particular tree, which the natives entreated him to desist from, saying
that it was Fetished,[27] however, he persisted and accomplished his
wish. A few days after this he was taken ill, and as every one knows,
he did not survive to tell his own story: perhaps the precise cause of
his death will ever remain in doubt. This gentleman was a son of the
celebrated Mungo Park, than whom no man was better calculated for such
an enterprise, and whose loss is perhaps more to be regretted than that
of any other African traveller; but I lament to say that from the
moment I heard of his son, an inexperienced young man, undertaking an
enterprise of such magnitude, as that of penetrating alone into the
interior of an unknown country, to solve a problem in the pursuit of
which so many distinguished travellers had failed and fallen, I confess
I never supposed he would live to return: in fact, the project appeared
to me, what is emphatically expressed in the old proverb, "a wild-goose
chase." For where men of maturer judgment and greater experience found
that they could not contend against the superstitions, prejudices, and
artifices of those cunning savages, how was it to be expected that a
youth of nineteen could possibly succeed?

I have heard, that his desire for travelling in Africa, arose from a
romantic notion, that had entered his head when a boy, of seeking for
his father in the interior of that country, to ascertain whether he was
alive and in slavery, or had lost his life by sickness, or violence.
This filial enthusiasm continued to haunt him until a short time before
he left England, when he abandoned the fond hope of recovering his
father, whose death was confirmed by a variety of coincident
circumstances, but still he resolved to persevere in his long-cherished
scheme of visiting the interior of Africa. Impelled, perhaps, by the
name he inherited, and a latent passion to emulate the deeds of his
father, on the same field of action, he embarked in this hazardous and
unfortunate enterprise. But mark the difference of character and
qualifications. The father, a man of mature judgment, whose experience
in the world gave him considerable advantages; was also of an age and
temperament that rendered him less liable to the endemic diseases of
such a climate,[28] while his patience, perseverance, and medical
skill, enabled him to surmount difficulties which a younger man, by his
rashness, would only increase. The son, a young sailor, just entering
life, full of enthusiastic ardour, and, perhaps, of confidence, from
the information he had collected from books, little thinking that
theoretical knowledge is of no avail in comparison with the practical
study of human nature, particularly amongst savage tribes, which time
and experience alone can give, was, of all persons, the worst qualified
for such an undertaking. He possessed no knowledge whatever of the
country, or the people, and had not a single individual to hold council
with, amongst a variety of savage nations, where he would,
occasionally, meet with some of the most cunning and intriguing people
in the world. I, of course, allude to the Arabs; who alone possess any
influence, or can be supposed to be secure amongst the Africans of the
interior, cut off, as they are, from all European nations on the
coast:--the Mahommedan religion is the only one that is generally
known, and the only written one amongst these people, the rest being
mere superstitious forms and customs: which, however, do not vary, in
any great degree, in the whole country. The Arabs are very jealous of
the ascendancy they possess over the various nations of the continent
of Africa, and studiously endeavour to prevent strangers from
traversing the interior, from the fear of losing the influence they
have acquired over this poor, ignorant, and superstitious people.

It appears singular, that there should have been no rain at Accra,
where their crops were failing for the want of it, although it rained
every day at Cape Coast. There were several heaps of shells on the
beach at Accra, principally consisting of the common cowrie, and the
large muscle. They had been collected for the purpose of undergoing the
process of calcination. In the absence of limestone, they are used as a
substitute, and are considered to produce a finer and stronger lime.

About sun-set we embarked in the same large canoe from which I landed,
and immediately after our arrival on board, the Eden got under weigh,
when we shaped our course for our ultimate destination, the Island of
Fernando Po, a distance of 530 miles, bearing about E. by S. 1/4 S.
while H.M.S. Esk, left Accra roads for Cape Coast.

_Friday, 26th_.--After a four days' passage across the Gulf of Guinea,
at seven o'clock this morning, we saw the island of Fernando Po,
bearing S.E. This island can be seen from a considerable distance,
being distinguished by some very high peaks. At four in the afternoon,
the wind fell away nearly to a calm, when we found ourselves close in
with the land, and a current carrying us still closer; however,
fortunately, a light breeze sprung up, when we were glad to stand off
for the night. On the following morning (_Saturday, 27th_) we made
towards the land, sailing along the coast, which presented the most
picturesque, scenery that could well be imagined, until we anchored in
Maidstone Bay, at half past three in the afternoon, 12 fathoms
water--black mud.


The island of Fernando Po, situated off the western coast of Africa, in
the Gulf or Bight of Biafra, between 3 deg. and 4 deg. N. latitude, and
8 deg. and 9 deg. E. longitude, is about one hundred and twenty miles
in circumference. It is generally believed to have been discovered in
the year 1471, by a Portuguese navigator, who gave it the name of Ilha
Formosa, or the Beautiful Isle, afterwards changed for that of its
discoverer, which it now retains. The Portuguese first established a
settlement upon it which they, however, abandoned, and subsequently
transferred the right of possession to Spain, receiving in exchange the
Island of Trinidad, off the coast of Brazil.

In the year 1764, a new settlement was founded by Spain, which, after a
lapse of eighteen years, was also abandoned, for causes which have not
been satisfactorily explained, although it is generally believed that a
series of misunderstandings with the natives took place, which
principally produced that result.[29]

Since this period the island has been left to its native inhabitants,

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